A man photographed in tactical gear and carrying zip-tie handcuffs on the Senate floor on Wednesday is a former Air Force officer who told The New Yorker magazine he stormed the Capitol because he believed the president wanted him to be there as the 2020 election was being certified.
“The President asked for his supporters to be there to attend, and I felt like it was important, because of how much I love this country, to actually be there,” Larry Rendall Brock, Jr. told reporter Ronan Farrow in a story published Friday evening.
Brock, a retired lieutenant colonel and combat veteran, was one of many insurrectionists to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Five people died from injuries sustained in the ensuing riot, including two Air Force veterans, one of whom was a Capitol Police officer.
Brock was identified thanks to the efforts of The New Yorker and John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab in the University of Toronto’s Munk School.
“I used a number of techniques to hone in on his identity, including facial recognition and image enhancement, as well as seeking contextual clues from his military paraphernalia,” Scott-Railton told the New Yorker.
One of those contextual clues was a 706th Fighter Squadron patch. Brock reportedly served as a chief operations inspector and flight commander within the unit, claiming to have received three Meritorious Service Medals, six Air Medals, and three Aerial Achievement Medals from service in Afghanistan and non-combat service in Iraq.
In a statement to the New Yorker, Ann Stefanek, an Air Force spokesperson, said, “This individual is no longer serving in the Air Force Reserve. He retired in 2014. As a private citizen, the Air Force no longer has jurisdiction over him.”
Brock now works for Hillwood Airways, a Texas-based private aviation company.
Air Force officials did not immediately respond to a request for verification of Brock’s service record. Officials from Hillwood Airways did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
As for the helmet and body armor, Brock told The New Yorker that he was afraid of being attacked by members of Black Lives Matter and Antifa. “I didn’t want to get stabbed or hurt,” he said.
The Air Force Academy graduate claimed to have found the flex cuffs he was carrying on the floor. “I wish I had not picked those up,” he said. “My thought process there was I would pick them up and give them to an officer when I see one.”
Brock can also be seen on a video from ITV News exiting Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office suite with a group of insurrectionists known to have been inside. Brock denied this allegation in conversations with The New Yorker, saying he stopped five to ten feet short of the offices when others entered.
The retired officer’s family and friends expressed concerns about his radical political views. “I don’t contact him anymore ‘cause he’s gotten extreme,” Bill Leake, an Air Force officer who had served with Brock, told the New Yorker.
Some family members said white-supremacist beliefs may have motivated Brock to storm the Capitol.
Brock cited the president’s false claims of massive election fraud as his motivation and denied holding any racist views. “The President asked for his supporters to be there to attend, and I felt like it was important, because of how much I love this country, to actually be there,” he said.
He also added that he thought has was welcome to enter the Capitol when he arrived at its doors, despite the crowd of violent insurrectionists clashing with law enforcement.
The FBI is working to identify and charge the insurrectionists recorded entering the Capitol building. More than a dozen rioters have been charged so far, including a West Virginia lawmaker.
“We have deployed our full investigative resources and are working closely with our federal, state, and local partners to aggressively pursue those involved in criminal activity during the events of January 6,” the FBI said in a statement.
More than 1,000 National Guard troops were activated in response to the attacks, which were condemned by former Secretaries of Defense Mark Esper and Jim Mattis. All told, more than 6,000 National Guard troops are headed to the district.
“Today’s violent assault on our Capitol, an effort to subjugate American democracy by mob rule, was fomented by Mr. Trump,” Mattis said in a statement. “His use of the presidency to destroy trust in our election and to poison our respect for fellow citizens has been enabled by pseudo political leaders whose names will live in infamy as profiles in cowardice.”
Military Times managing editor Howard Altman contributed to this report.